The word delight is defined as a verb, to please someone greatly or a noun to take great pleasure in.
Doesn’t seem like it would be something that would take work, right? I mean, how often to you go to Disney and think about how much work it will be to have fun? Right? 🙂 Well, I’m here to tell you that delight is something I have to seriously work at. At least in a particular context. And that context is delighting in my children.
Plenty of verses in Proverbs talk about how children bring delight to parents. As I have read those verses countless times it never occurred to me till recently that I needed to have a more active role in the delight part. Till then I’d been placing all of the responsibility of creating delight on the part of the children. I’m not trying to make something “new” out of the Bible or say that this is the way it has to be for every home, but for me personally some things need to change.
See, mommyhood is difficult. VERY difficult! Maybe it comes easier for some people and maybe some people just try to project the “easy” attitude. I’m pretty sure that for just about every parent everywhere though it is sometimes if not always, difficult. Unless of course a parent doesn’t care at all about the character and behavior of their kids, then I suppose it might be easier… but I don’t know any parents like that, thankfully!
So as I slog through the difficult days with my kids too often I am not finding any delight in it at all. I don’t delight in them, I don’t delight in what they are doing, and I don’t delight in being a mom. It’s true. Too many days my greatest accomplishments have been to make sure everyone has had food, and that bottoms have been cleaned and I just go into survival mode till I can finally deposit them all into bed and be “free” of them for a few hours.
It sounds completely horrible to actually say it, but I know I’m not the only one who has days like that. It’s okay to be honest. Yes, I love my kids more than life, but that doesn’t mean they don’t take a toll.
However, I notice that if I take the time to stop being a harried mom and actually find things to delight with in my children that they respond in amazing ways! Kids need to feel like they are important and that they belong. It’s one of the vital needs of kids actually. When they don’t get that need met then behaviors start to rapidly deteriorate as they desperately seek for the attention/affirmation that they need.
I know, because I have a child who has been quite a challenge (read conflict from sunup to past bed time) recently. Now the children are still responsible for their actions and have to have consequences for their own bad choices. But I realize that most of the time when it’s a constant battle with a particular child, rather than just random events, that a lot of the problem is me.
I haven’t been delighting in them, showing them just how important they are to me and to our family unit. They haven’t been receiving the kind of attention that they need so they are working in ways that aren’t good to get any kind of attention, even negative. And it turns into a cycle that just keeps getting worse and worse. I’ve been in tears over the frustration of a child who seemingly will not make good choices and in fact is defiant of every instruction. This isn’t acceptable and cannot continue.
But how do you turn it around? How do you delight in a child who is making life miserable for everyone? I’m not sure I know entirely, but I’ll tell you, it’s work! And it’s our job as the parent to do the work. I too often find myself holding on to those irritate/angry/resentful feelings that bad behavior brings. And that’s not okay. How can I delight in my child in the afternoon, when I’m still holding a grudge about the 17 bad things they did before breakfast? And what if God acted toward me that way? I expect forgiveness and grace from Him, yet fail too often to show the same to my kids.
Yep, it’s work to delight in the child who is misbehaving, but most likely they are the ones who need it the most.
So for right now I’m working hard on finding things to honestly delight in. And it does need to be honest delight because kids can spy falseness and insincerity in adults faster than anything! I praise the kind of behavior that we want to see to the skies when it shows up, I find something to be glad over on the school papers that moments ago were causing tantrums, I try SO hard to “catch” them doing right rather than spying on them to see if they are going to make more bad choices. It’s a lot of work, but I can feel my own attitude start to change when I’m working on delighting in my kids, and the delight actually starts to come easier as I do it.